Before our match against Motor Zaporozhye, we have spoken with Manuel Strlek. We asked our Croatian left-winger about his expectations against Motor, his evaluation of the season so far, and how he feels living in Veszprém.
First of all, how are you doing?
First of all, how are you doing?
I’m feeling great, thank you very much. What else could I say after a long week and a number of tough games. We had a bad day in Zaporozhye and we lost the match. Saying “this is sports” might not be the best phrase to use, but we are trying to leave that match in the past and correct our mistakes in the upcoming matches.
You had a tough collision with Rodrigo in the match against Szeged. How are you feeling?
By now, I feel completely fine. In that moment it hurt way more than it should have, but fortunately everything’s fine, I have no broken ribs. These things happen all the time, handball is a tough sport. The most important thing is that neither of us suffered serious injuries. I feel ready to bring the best out of myself. I had some problems with my thigh muscles last season as well as in the beginning of this season, but fortunately these small injuries healed as well. Last year it was much harder to focus on injury prevention trainings, as we had periods where we couldn’t train properly due to the pandemic or quarantines.
Your position partner, Dejan Manaskov is injured. How are you adjusting to being the only left-winger in the team? Do you feel more responsibility and/or pressure with more game time?
First of all, I’d like to wish all the best to Deki and I hope he makes his comeback as soon as possible, after a quick and successful rehabilitation. We are position partners on the pitch and good friends in everyday life. Unfortunately, these injuries are a part of contact sports. At first glance, it seems that I will receive much more game time, but Pepe and Kentin can also help in game time distribution. The season is incredibly long, with an abundance of games and tough draws, as we’re playing in 3-4 competitions simultaneously. Of course, this isn’t me complaining, we just have to conserve and ration our strength and energies, to be able to play at our best come the end of the season. I always strive to do my best in every training, in every match. I want to perform well and consistently throughout the season and win multiple trophies.
What do you think about Veszprém’s wing-game this season?
I think with our game plans and tactics this season, we have much more opportunities to score from the wing positions. When a new coach takes over, usually they try to make big changes in a short amount of time. In this regard, I think we’re very lucky with Momo; you cannot change everything so quickly. Momo is trying to move day-by-day and gradually feed us new instructions and changes. We’re probably not at our highest level ever right now, however we’re playing good and conscious handball with Veszprém this season. We have beaten Flensburg, Barcelona and PSG with quality handball, but like in the lives of all teams, we have ups and downs, like our two losses away from home in the EHF Champions League or the draw against Szeged. Naturally, we can’t hide behind the old “it wasn’t our day” excuse, but this is the Champions League where everybody aims to win. At this level, there are no weak teams. The path we started on this season is good and it’s vital that we get back to winning ways.
This is your fourth year in Veszprém, how do you like living here?
I feel really good and making a transfer a Veszprém was a good decision. It really is a joy and honour to be here; I have made a lot of friends and my family loves living here as well. We are in serious contention for every possible trophy and as a player, the most important thing, is to be able to play handball at the highest level possible. I hope we can achieve something great this season and win trophies for Veszprém.
We played a poor match in Zaporozhye to say the least. What do you think, which part of our game needs improvement?
I think we have to improve in all areas of the game, that performance just wasn’t on the level that we’re capable of and it did reflect poorly on us. We definitely want to change this and fix our mistakes for our home game. I hope, we can leave these rough patches behind us, for the second half of the season.
What are your expectations for the game?
We always want to win when we’re playing at home; we want to deliver on that. We had a match against Eger on Sunday and since then, we have been focusing on Motor. We have to play the best concentrated, powerful handball we can. We have to show a confident performance in order to get back on the path we started on, in September. Naturally, we want to win on Thursday, in front of our fans.
Thank you very much Manuel! We wish you good luck for the game on Thursday!